OSC Answers Questions
My question is about OSC's military knowledge. Although I'm only 16, I aspire for
a position of leadership in the military, and I wonder where OSC gets his
knowledge of the fine skill of military leadership. From Ender's actions as a
Commander, I've already got some ideas on how to lead men willingly and would
like to know where OSC learned this.
-- Submitted Anonymously
OSC REPLIES: - October 2, 2003
When I was ten or so, my parents gave me Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomac
trilogy. While this brilliant history is about many things (it is the most perfectly
detailed book about every level of the military experience), it is especially
effective in explaining why good commanders were good, and bad ones bad. It had
to do with their ability (or lack of it) in military affairs; the degree to which they
"followed the book" or took daring steps; how they were affected by the degree of
intelligence they had about the enemy movements, positions, and numbers; and,
most important, how they used their men and how their men felt about them. Grant
wasn't loved like McClellan, for instance, but his soldiers knew that he was using
them effectively, and they trusted him in a way they never trusted anyone before.
After reading that, I also read many other books of history, including military
histories. And historical novels. From Alexander and Napoleon to Rommel and
Patton, from the Japanese and Americans in WWII to Cortez and Pizarro in the
Americas. When it came time to write Ender's Game - and, more important, the
novel version, which is far more explicit about good and bad commanders - I had
a thorough grounding in history. But I didn't open any of those books while
writing - Ender and the rival commanders weren't modeled on anybody in
particular. I wrote from what I had internalized about command.
Apparently I got at least some things right - the novel has been used in courses in
command at the Marine University at Quantico, and I've been told that the
strategists who came up with the military doctrines that were used in Afghanistan
and Iraq had some of the principles in Ender's Game in the back of their mind
when they wrote. So we went full circle.
I never served in the military. But I respect and honor those who do - and do it
well. So good luck to you!